Been in the US for a week with family, on holiday. Not much time to read and write. But, here are some good post-Brexit referendum links:
A very British revolution by Fraser Nelson, editor of Spectator, in WSJ:
The EU has become a coalition of the unwilling, the place where the finest multilateral ambitions go to die….In a television debate last week, Mr. Cameron was asked if there was “anything fair about an immigration system that prioritizes unskilled workers from within the EU over skilled workers who are coming from outside the EU?” He had no convincing answer…..No EU country can honestly claim to control European immigration, and there is no prospect of this changing. [Link]
David Goodhart in FT:
What may also have been missed, especially on the left, is that while many people in the top 25 per cent of the educational and economic hierarchy have become less attached to national social contracts in the past couple of generations, others have actually become more dependent on them …….Moreover, the loss of close, industrial communities over the past few decades might well have produced a stronger attachment to the imagined community of the nation and its social supports…….It seems that GK Chesterton’s “people of England that have never spoken yet” have been so aroused by the condescension of the expert classes that they spoke their mind with a force that has reverberated across the entire continent of Europe. [Link]
Jeffrey Sachs has a good piece in Project-Syndicate on what the world needs to do. Not that there is a chance that those things would be done. But, at least, he is specific and sensible.
Sanjeev Sanyal makes the valid point that historical events cannot be judged with economic metrics.
Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United Kingdom by two notches. Their press release can be found here. The comment that they make on the reserve currency status of pound sterling is interesting. Their views on different sectors is here.
How David Cameron’s ambivalence on the topic may have contributed to his own downfall, a year after achieving a resounding victory for the Conservatives in the national election. His downfall has been quite extraordinary. It should form part of philosophical discourses, on understanding human failing and limits to human endeavours and results, etc. This piece helps to understand David Cameron on EU better.
For the sake of historical interest, this article marks the date on which David Cameron announced his plans for a referendum on Britain’s place in the European Union – Jan. 22, 2013.
Even though the exit of Britain from EU might trigger a global crisis, it might not really be its precipitator. There is a difference. Other forces and reasons have been at work. One expected more thoughtful stuff from Gideon Rachman.
The rejection of the globalised world order by the Brits is as inevitable as it is by other nationalities. Many countries are turning their backs on globalisation for their own reasons. Some of us lose out from this development but that does not make the forces that have caused this development trivial. Trivialising it further strengthens it.
James Crabtree writes a more thoughtful piece for Singapore’s ‘Straits Times’:
Mr Cameron’s decision to call this week’s referendum will go down as one of history’s greatest miscalculations. It was born of reckless expediency, and designed to quell tensions within his eurosceptic Conservative Party.
Among my own circle on Facebook over recent months, I read just a single post advocating leaving. By contrast, hundreds tumbled out with passionate calls for Remain, some from europhile Britons, others from cosmopolitan Europeans, urging friends across the Channel to stay. Mine is admittedly not a representative sample, but it provided something of a window on to the much larger echo-chamber made up of the winners from globalisation – and one whose members must now rethink many of their most basic political and economic assumptions. [Link]
He is right about the echo-chamber. But, Edward Luce does not get it and will not get it. Nor do Gideon Rachman and Martin Wolf. They are typical of the ‘Liberal’ elite that my article in MINT refers to. FT readers continue to see through FT but not FT writers themselves.
A friend wrote to me, on reading my article:
Thanks for your interesting article. I am in the UK now. It really does appear that there is no plan in place for Brexit, and some politicians are openly stating that any plan that emerges will need to be validated by either another referendum or by a general election. There is huge confusion, political turmoil and a growing opinion in hindsight that issues of such complexity ought not to have been decided by uninformed people, but rather by their elected representatives, since many people really did not know the full ramifications of Brexit and looked at it crudely and simplistically as a way of keeping foreigners out of the country.
This was my response to him (slightly modified):
That is a fair point but have politicians, policymakers and global elites fared any better?
If issues of complexity are not to be decided by people who have had very little time or information to apply their minds to the problem, what does one say about the politicians’ inability to read the public mood correctly? Not a single major party seemed to be in touch with the public. Despite their career, fortune and life depending on it, if politicians got the public mood spectacularly wrong, in what better shape were they to decide on complex matters?
Indeed, over the last two decades or more, politicians and elites have been making decisions on complex matters unmindful of their long-term consequences and have been somewhat blasé about the unintended consequences of their decisions. It is difficult to consider all the voters who opted for Brexit worse than or inferior to these politicians, policymakers and elites. Indeed, such a thought process itself, appears to me, to be the core of the problem.
Matt Taibbi captures it very well just with the header of his article for the Rolling Stone: ‘The Reaction to Brexit Is the Reason Brexit Happened’. The article is very well worth reading.
That is exactly what I wrote in my MINT piece too:
Liberal (pun intended) contempt for the interests and concerns of the ordinary people is hard at work nurturing divisive and xenophobic tendencies and personalities around the world.
I am pleased with the title of my article: ‘The Moving Hand writes’. The full lines which most of us would know are:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.” (Omar Khayyám – 1048-1131 AD)